Snapchat released a new version of its video-recording sunglasses on Thursday, a waterproof pair that look and feel much like the originals.
They’re pretty fun — the glasses let you snap a photo or record a video and share it directly to your phone; they’re basically a fun way to capture a moment from the wearer’s perspective.
The truth is, though, that Spectacles aren’t a big business. The company says that it shipped 220,000 pairs of its first-generation Spectacles, a number the company considers a success, but that doesn’t move the needle for Snapchat’s business. Of last year’s revenue, 97 percent came from advertising. Even worse, the company ended up reporting a one-time $40 million expense last year to account for excess Spectacles inventory it couldn’t sell.
Snapchat has today introduced a new group video chat feature, letting users chat with up to 16 of their closest friends. If users need more people in the chat (which, for those of us who have large conference calls, sounds awful!), Snap is also offering group voice calls with up to 32 participants.
The feature is relatively simple. Just tap the video icon in a group chat to get started, or start up a call with a few people and invite new friends to join.
As one might expect, Snapchat’s crown jewel filters will also be available to use within a group video chat.
Folks that aren’t camera ready can easily toggle between voice and video to just voice.
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Snap first introduced group chat and video chat in 2016, looking to give people new ways to communicate on the image-first platform. Snap says that the community is making millions of calls a day since launch.
That said, it’s worth wondering about the timing of this new feature, which comes almost two years after the company announced video chat. It’s possible that Snap wants to take advantage of the #deletefacebook movement offering people as much functionality as possible to connect on their platform instead of the incumbent’s.
It’s also worth noting that Snap’s 16-person group video chat is strikingly similar to Houseparty, the video chat app launched by the founders of live streaming app Meerkat.
Alongside the introduction of group video calls, Snap is also bringing @mentions to the platform. Users can now tag each other in their snaps and Stories by simply typing @ before their user name. Users who have been tagged will be notified when they appear in their friends’ Stories.
Google and Facebook — the world’s biggest online ad companies — could see their share of U.S. digital advertising decline for the first time, thanks to slowing growth and competition from the likes of Amazon and Snap.
Google’s share is expected to decline from 38.6 percent last year to 37.2 percent in 2018, according to digital measurement firm eMarketer, while Facebook could shrink slightly from 19.9 to 19.6 percent.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s ad business is expected to grow to nearly 3 percent of the market in that same period from 2 percent last year, for a total of $2.9 billion in ad revenue for 2018. Snap’s share of the ad market is expected to grow from 0.6 percent last year to 1 percent this year. Both Amazon and Snap ad shares are expected to grow through 2020.
As part of Snapchat’s effort to boost advertiser interest, they’ve been commissioning research reports to better highlight the potential of the app’s audience. They recently published a report on Snapchat’s unique audience – users who are more commonly active on Snapchat than they are on other platforms. Their latest report looks at another subset of Snapchat users – those interested in sports and sport-related content.
Snapchat may not be the first platform that comes to mind when you think of sports coverage on social, but the data, which incorporates combined insights from Snapchat and Nielsen, presents a few interesting considerations worth keeping in mind for those trying to connect with sports devotees.
First off, according to Snapchat, Snap users are more likely to be sports fans.
“Whether it’s professional basketball, football, baseball, soccer, or hockey, Snapchatters generally watch, attend, and stream sports games more than people who don’t use the app. In fact, Snapchatters are 25% more likely to rank “sports” as a category that’s important to them than non-Snapchatters would.”
Brands can now apply more-advanced targeting tools to Snapchat photo filter campaigns, enabling them to reach select audiences and experiment more with the creative messaging, the company says.
The messaging and media app is calling the new tool, which arrives Tuesday, “audience filters.” Instead of just hitting a specific location (which is what its geofilter does), brands can target based on interests, time of day, age, gender and other technical criteria.
“This signals that Snapchat is willing to start to do more for advertisers,” says Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C Insights, a Snapchat ads platform partner. “Reaching someone when you know they’re at your store, that’s farming. Audience filters—that’s more like hunting.”
Filters, or the overlays that people use to decorate photos and videos, are one of Snapchat’s most-used products, with 3 billion of them viewed a day, according to the company. Snapchat usually offers a variety for people to choose from. The filters are an attractive ad unit for brands.
Quaker Oats, owned by PepsiCo, is among the brands that have already tried the new audience-based filter campaigns. It targeted mothers and working professionals, divided the campaign into day and night, and tweaked the message depending on time of day.
“Geofilters and audience filters have fundamentally different targeting strengths,” Abhishek Jadon, director digital strategy at Pepsi North America Nutrition, wrote in an email. “Geofilters allow you to target very granular geographic areas, whereas audience filters can be targeted based on a host of behavioral attributes.”
Quaker Oats worked on the campaign with VaynerMedia, a Snapchat ads platform partner. Snapchat has built tight relations with select agencies familiar with its ad platform, which help brands run their campaigns and use the targeting capabilities.
“What intrigues us most about Snapchat’s filters is the combination of paid and earned media delivery rolled seamlessly into a single ad unit,” Jon Morgenstern, VP of paid media, at VaynerMedia, said in an e-mail. “When you consider the earned impressions derived from Snapchatters sending out Snaps using the filters to their friends, in addition to the paid delivery costs, the effective CPMs paid can be extremely efficient.”
The filters now have the same targeting tools as Snapchat’s video ads, and they can both be bought in auctions on the self-serve platform. This summer, Snapchat upgraded its ads manager with an advanced mode, inspired by Facebook’s Power Editor, which lets advertisers design, test and publish ads in a more streamlined fashion.
Snapchat has slowly been rolling out the ad technology it needs to attract the kind of non-stop advertisers that power Facebook and Google’s businesses.
The automated ad system has helped introduce more brands to Snapchat, and there were five times as many advertisers in the third quarter compared to the prior quarter, according to Snapchat’s financial report earlier this month. However, the automated ad system also drove down prices, which dropped 60 percent in the third quarter.
Snapchat’s ad sales reached $208 million in the third quarter, according to the report. That fell below expectations, according to analysts.
The company has been promising an app redesign to make it easier for both consumers and advertisers to understand the value of the platform.
Most recently, Snapchat launched a pixel, considered an essential ad tech offering. Pixels track consumers across the web and help brands retarget ads to people that visited their websites, among other data and measurement benefits.
Snapchat is still seen as immature in its advertising offering, and a number of agencies and brands have been frustrated by its slow progress. On Tuesday, Snapchat also said it would open an online tutorial to help get brands and agencies up to speed on how the platform works.
Can Instagram finally eat Snapchat’s lunch once and for all? According to a new report from L2, brands are uploading to Instagram Stories more than twice as often as they are on Snapchat.
The firm tracked 89 brands who have both an Instagram and Snapchat account during July, finding that marketers posted 1,347 Instagram Stories compared to 614 Snapchat Stories. During the week of July 10, for example, 41 percent of marketers used Instagram Stories compared to 9 percent of brands who posted to Snapchat.
Moreover, Snapchat Stories are concentrated to a smaller section of brands, namely beauty and hair care marketers. Seventy-two percent of the Snapchat Stories analyzed came from beauty brands while retailers made up 13 percent of snaps. Travel, automotive, consumer electronics and activewear made up the remaining 15 percent.
On Instagram Stories, beauty and hair care brands made up 38 percent of the posts analyzed while retailers generated 26 percent of Stories. Luxury and consumer-packaged-goods marketers posted 21 percent of content. The other 15 percent of content came from activewear, consumer electronics and other types of marketers.
“As Instagram becomes the mainstream choice for brand Stories, Snapchat risks being niche-ified,” wrote L2 in the report.
Snapchat has been under fire from Instagram for more than a year, as the Facebook-owned app has steadily ripped off Snapchat’s features while increasing its users thanks to support and targeting tools from Facebook’s ecosystem. In June, Instagram reported 250 million daily users for Stories while Snap said it had 166 million daily users during its first earnings call in May.
While Snapchat has added tools for its users like links, “Instagram has integrated ecommerce handoff technology into Stories, namely swipe-up links leading to brand sites, linked influencer tags, and checkout buttons that support brand efforts to move beyond engagement metrics and render their live video content shoppable,” L2 noted in the report. “Snapchat, meanwhile, has made few adjustments to its Stories content tools, limiting the ability of brands to leverage owned content for ecommerce.”
The report also analyzed Facebook Live videos and L2 tracked 45,000 videos from 426 brands that were uploaded between August 2016 and June 2017. The firm found that 4.4 percent of brands’ uploaded videos in June were created with Facebook Live, up from 1 percent in August 2016. Luxury was the top category for brands using Facebook Live, making up 22 percent of the clips uploaded. Automotive made up 20 percent, activewear generated 14 percent and beauty brands uploaded 11 percent of the clips.
There’s still some work to be done around making sure that people see branded Live videos in newsfeeds though—unless you want to pay.
Per L2, 78 percent of Facebook Live video views were paid, an increase from 57 percent in November 2016. L2 pointed to Samsung as an example of a brand pouring money into Facebook Live—the manufacturer spent nearly $3 million on Facebook ads during the first quarter of 2017 as it launched the Galaxy 8 smartphone. A 90-minute livestream of the brand’s Unpacked event included paid promotion and racked up 1.6 million views and 14,000 shares.